Why not Nippert? FC Cincinnati GM calls UC football stadium an 'implausible' option for MLS

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jun 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-01 12:47:08-04

CINCINNATI -- Why not Nippert Stadium? That's what lots of newly minted soccer fans are asking this week, after FC Cincinnati's heart-thumping performance on ESPN Wednesday night.

Could the University of Cincinnati modify Nippert -- or the contract terms dictating its use -- to make its on-campus venue a permanent home for Major League Soccer?

"We really haven't had those discussions," UC Athletic Director Mike Bohn said. "Not at this point, but that doesn't mean there won't be (talks in the future)."

Bohn would support such talks "as long as we continue to provide a great experience and a great venue for soccer fans, football fans and the community. I mean. that was the partnership that started from day one, but again their aspirations in the MLS are paramount and we're 110 percent in support of that vision for them."

FC Cincinnati is still in stadium-development mode.

"Nothing has changed. We're full in pursuit of a new stadium, which is directly tied into earning an opportunity to being promoted into the first division in our country (MLS)," FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding said.

He reiterated that the MLS requires franchises to play in a "soccer-specific stadium."

"It doesn't have to be soccer only but has to be designed to soccer specifications," Berding said.

He has heard the groundswell of interest in making Nippert work for FC Cincinnati, but the complications involved in making it the franchise's permanent home are bigger than meet the eye.

"It's not that we're obtuse. We understand that there are plenty of our fans and supporters who are out there who want this to work," Berding said. "But to the best of our judgment, the ability to turn Nippert into a soccer-specific stadium is implausible due to some insurmountable challenges."

As an upgraded but historical stadium, Nippert has some disadvantages, with no kitchens inside the stadium and all concessions delivered from a remote location.

Entrances are relatively narrow, especially for soccer, where fans tend to march in together en masse.

Concession stands and restrooms are used differently, too, with soccer fans tending to rush to them together after the uninterrupted 45-minute first half.